Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hazel defends the NHS...?

Now I thought I remembered Charles Clarke having a go at John McDonnell because he thought he was insufficiently loyal to the (allegedly) Labour Government.

Doh!

Charlie dear, has it not occurred to you that the Government to which you were loyal and from which you were dumped has shown precious little loyalty to the policies of the Party?

And now the Party Chair (well, not the real Chair elected by the Party but the one put in place by the Dear Leader) has shown the way by attending a protest against Government Health Policy.

Nice one Hazel! You’ll be a welcome convert to the cause of socialism (though you must expect a bit of ribbing about your long support for the failing creed of New Labour…)

Of course no one can really defend Government policy on the NHS. Even superannuated old union hacks can win this argument. ;)

So 2007 will be the time to get serious about supporting our Health Service.

Hazel? Hazel? Where are you Hazel?

Brendan Barber's New Year Message

So our Leader wants us to talk about how much faster Executive pay is rising than our pay. It’s a fair point.

For every £100 earned by a top company director in 2000 they now earn £205, while ordinary employees have only seen a £6 increase in every £100 they earned six years ago (after allowing for inflation). Top pay is increasing 17 times faster than average pay.

Well yes Brendan, but doesn’t this also say something about the relative weakness of our union movement to secure decent increases in earnings for our members? Isn’t that what we should be debating, if not here then over here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress,non-addictive gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious/secular traditions at all.

As well, please enjoy a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Britain great (not to imply that Great Britain is necessarily greater than any other country) without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wisher .By accepting this greeting, you are accepting the following terms: -

* This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal.

* It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.

* It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and it is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.

* This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Season's Greetings?

A seasonal tale here from Barnet UNISON about a private employer who really belong in a Dickens’ Novel. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Socialist Youth Network

National launch conference of the Socialist Youth Network (pm session chaired by yours truly :p)
Venue is ULU University of London Union,
Saturday 13th January10am - 4pm

Fed up with New Labour?

Want to join other young trade unionists and students in the fight for socialism?
Inspired by John McDonnell's leadership campaign?

JOIN US ON 13TH JANUARY.........................GUEST SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
Tony Benn
Katy Clark MP
John McDonnell MP

SYN is a new coalition of young socialists and trade unionists. It is the youth wing of the Labour Representation Committee.
Membership is open to members of the Labour party and those who are members of no political party.

If you do not wish to join SYN or you a member of another political party, you can attend Conference as an Observer.

JOIN SYN: £3 unwaged / £5 waged REGISTER FOR CONFERENCE: £5 Register online or send cheques to: SYN, c/o G10 Norman Shaw South,House of Commons, London SW1A 2JF.
Cheques should be made payable to Labour Representation Committee.

For Further Info please email or call me.

Join the SYN email list by sending a blank email socialistyouth-subscribe@lists.riseup.net

Sunday, December 17, 2006

London TULO Reception

Yesterday I received a letter singed by three people one of whom was Linda Perks, London UNISON regional Secretary. Which was bit of a surprise given I have written to Linda on a number of issue in UNISON as a member of the regional committee and received no response. However this was letter in her capacity as, Secretary to London TULO. For those that don’t know TULO stands for Trade Union Liaison Organisation and brings together all the Trade Unions affiliated to the Labour party.

It seems TULO has a lot of power as when I queried, during the last General election why we used our money to support war mongers like Onna King in Bethnal Green I was told by Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary, it would be “unconstitutional” to target our money politically as all money had to go to TULO who would determine where that money was spent so presumably in London that was done by Linda Perks, Secretary, London TULO!!

Back to the letter. I have been invited as Islington North Labour Party, TU liaison Officer to a reception, which will launch the London TULO strategy for 2008 London Elections (I note launch not discuss) there has obviously been a thorough debate In UNISON about that strategy unfortunately I missed that some how!

Any way I was pleased to note that we will be able to meet the “officers and activists of Labour’s affiliated unions”. Which I was very please to see as, I always look forward to meeting my fellow UNISON activists in a “sociable setting” and I am sure that leading activists, Labour Party members and Regional Council Officers such as MashaJane Thompson and Katrina Hoogendam as well as NEC member Jon Rogers, will have been invited or have they?

I will be attending this event, which will take place 7pm –9pm Monday 15th January, Macmillan Room Portcullis House. If you are a Labour Party activist in London make sure your TU liaison Officer is going if not it is possible for the CLP to send a substitute there.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Claws out

On the back of Jon's report on the London Regional Commitee www.jonrogers1963.blogspot.com I thought I'd post on some of the shannanigans I've heard about from the regional womens committee

Lesson 1 –Don’t job share
It seems a member from Camden who job shares with another Camden sister on the committee – had been ‘told to go’ by the Chair of the Women’s Committee because the women’s committee didn’t recognise job share! Against the advice of the secretary of the committe who apparently said she should be able to attend.
This would have been the sisters first time attending the committee and she was very upset about her treatment by the Chair and lack of support from the committee’s officer.

Lesson 2 –Don’t upset the Chair and ask to see relevant documents as the minutes of the previous meeting were agreed and the Chair -Louise Couling, a very long serving member and representative on the NEC– was pronouncing on the budget bid for the committee –a package of some 17 thousand pounds - a sister asked to see this document as it had not been circulated as is the correct procedure and happens in all other committees. Although the officer agreed that we could have the document circulated ‘later’ the suggestion did not go down well

Lesson 3 –Don’t ask about democracy and accountability
Around nominations for the AGM several people -myself included – had submitted written nomination addresses to te committee the Chair said these would not be circulated because the rules prevented it and no other SOGs circulated such papers. It was then pointed out to the Chair by members that other SOGS did circulate nomination papers. The Chair reflected on this and came up with a number of reasons why she did it her way:
 The committee does it this way
 The committee only accepts nominations sent in on paper -not by email
 The cost incurred by the committee in printing nomination addresses

So the written submissions were not distributed or read out at all. In the end Alan Jarman and Gloria Hanson were nominated for Convenor and Deputy Convenor. For Equalities Officer the Chair made a very positive supportive statement saying that as the nominee was a member of our committee we must support her and we did –Gill Brown. However, when it came to nomination for Publicity Officer –it was tied a 6:6 vote, the Chair opted, in a supportive way, to give her casting vote to someone who is not a member of the Committee.(Rather than Katrina Hoogendam who is a member of the committee I love the inconsistency!)

Interestingly –although people voted for this latter person –no-one knew who she was –( I do, nice woman, met her at conference last year, lives and works in Burnley) but voted for her anyway.
Although does beg the question of what use someone living and working in burnley could be for London Regional publicity officer?)

Interesting bit of information: the chair said she voted against Katrina because she didn’t like the fact that as the Publicity Officer she produced too many news sheets at conference! Always good to hear that the regional news sheet team’s work is appreciated.


Fun and Games as usual x

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another attack on the Labour-union link

Christmas will come every day for the Tories – and for everyone who wants to write organised labour out of politics – if the madcap scheme of Hayden Philips for party funding gets through. These would make it administratively impossible for the unions to affiliate in the way in which we do at the moment.

I was pleased to read the clear opposition to these proposals to restrict the union-Labour link from John McDonnell and Jon Cruddas on Dave Osler’s blog. Anyone who cares about the future of the Labour Party will oppose these proposals – unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily include the Prime Minister.

The challenge which faces the unions is to use our link with the Party to some good effect. At the moment it would be tricky to mobilise our activists in a campaign to save the link with a Party which, in Government is seen to be attacking our health service and our pensions.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Highlights of the pm

News of the blogging has reached the top table - with Owen Tudor just coming to me and saying I hear you've been blogging :) - hope u like the report Owen comment as much as you like x

So back to the conference first up in the afternoon was Sofi Taylor from UNISON's NEC who woke us all up with a few jokes and then went on to continue the theme of the day that we need to work with community groups and establish links and bridges with isolated workers.

Then the keynote speaker Liam Byrne who was introduced by Owen as now a unison sponsered MP - even though he has been a long standing member of AMICUS.

Liam then took the opportunity to thank Unison for sponsering him and the support they've given to hodge hill.

He started the speech with what an asset migrant workers were with an estimated 10 - 15 % of economic growth being down to migrant workers, 5billion pounds coming into the uk from foreign students and 1 in 4 work permits are for people to work in the health service.

The tone of the speech soon changed though "however 3/4 of people are dissatisfied with the gov performance on immigration"

Liam claimed this was a parodox for he goverment and commented how easy it would be for him to become depressed being the immigration minister (how do you think the people you deport feel!)

- but he has optimism! (Oh that's ok then)
He went on to speak about public services and how the provision of PS need to be able to change quickly.

He highlighted the area I live in canning town as an example of a fast changing community.

Then we got to the real problems we have with the government - liam's speech continued 'Illegal immigration is a crime and we need to be tough on all crime and all causes of crime, (perhaps he should have been here earlier when we were asking the gov to change their tone and stop linking immigration with crime?)

He went onto say it is not a victimless crime with 58 people dying en route to the uk in 2001'
So he carried on we need to tackle illegal working and therefore we are doubling money on enforcing immigration rules - strengthening the ability to find them (them!) And prosecute them. (Did he really expect us to all cheer or something?)

Fairness he said was a huge issue - "we have eroded public confidence when people think immigration isn't fair - so next year we will have a points system"
he said there are working groups to decide how many points for entry etc (he's not just going into a dark room in westminster to decide the answers himself - so what? We should be greatful?)
Then he says I.D cards will build a new level of trust (honestly man play to your audience!)

Q and A
Paul Mackney UCU has wrote a letter to Alan Johnson expressing his disgust at the ESOL decision and told Liam he was appalled at the decision to cut funding and wanted the decision reversed

Liam answered that it was a difficult decision for the dfes and they will keep it under review

Hugh O'shea asked about sanctions or fines for employers not paying the min wage - all that happens if employers get caught is they have to pay backpay.

Liam - I wanted to name and shame these employers but there are legal restrictions - he will be looking at ways of tackling it under the crime penalties regime that will be brought in next year

Question re scrapping the Workers registration Scheme being as it is a complete waste of time and money and is a huge detriment to migrant workers paying the 70 pound registration fee.

Liam - advice is being given and he recognises the good advice from Owen and the TUC and will look at this in new year.

Pauline ? From TSSA perhaps the reason 75% of the public are unhappy with immigration is that you continually link immigration to crime in government speeches - you should be publishing advantagesof Migrant Workers. And strengthen TU rights to enable us to support them.

Liam - I start each speech with economic benefits of migrant workers as I did in my speech here today - national media don't publish that part of it - we are looking at working with regional papers more as research has shown people trust regional papers more.

Question re criminilisation - we shouldn't be criminlising workers for the way they arrive in the country when its they that have been exploited

Liam - we need to broaden the focus there is a huge political concern re deportations.

We then broke for workshops on proposals for new areas of work and identifying resources.

Given the figures liam gave re how much growth is down to migrant workers - perhaps they should be giving us funding for this essential work (rather than cutting courses!)

Pool our efforts at the moment everyone in this room has spoken about DVD's, reports we have commissioned - there was a lot of criticisms from all 4 workshops of the unions for lack of co-ordination, need to have more involvement and spend resources wiser. (And none of that came from me!) Communication in unions was also a huge issue - there was a call for the TUC to try to pull unions together - especially around the call for amnesty or a regularisation scheme.

There was also a plug for local TUC's to put in bids to the TUC development fund.

There will be an official conference report as soon as I get it will post it here ;)

Next instalment :)

First Workshop was about sharing experiences of projects for migrants.
We broke up into 4 groups of approx 35
My group had some very interesting contributions from AMICUS, GMB, Rev Kenneth Berkin from Kent Refugee Action Network and Kelly Services uk an employment agency the big topic of the moment was the cut in ESOL funding and the detrimental effect its going to have. The most interesting contribution (apart from mine of course) was Vyqaudas Usackas Ambassador from Lithuania who has been in the country for 3 months going around seeing what things are happening - the accomodation issues in particular is what he has noticed and he was here today to try to forge links with Unions to help him represent workers and also to try and forge a links between us and the independant TU's in eastern europe and I was very pleased to hear that there will be a meeting with him and the tuc to get something going.

Much was made in the workshops again about forming alliances with the rep from a group called employment support unit upset about the lack of support com groups have had from Unions so far.

Next up Frances O'grady DGS of the TUC

Frances says there are 3 main practical things we have to do.

1 Build TU Organisation fewer than a quarter of Migrant Workers are unionised. Migrant workers need a union but we need migrant workers as well Frances reminded us that wave upon wave of migrant workers built british TU's - she also stressed the importance of alliances with community organisations (seems to be the theme!)

2 Building public support - public opinion has been distorted by media scaremongoring and we need to address this with the facts. Migrant workers are essential to the delivery of public services - Migrant Workers put more into the economy than they take out - Frances also reminded us that its not just bigots in the media we have to deal with but the goverment - which leads into point 3.

Policy change - Frances welcomed much that Labour have achieved but said the TUC is disappointed by the restrictions imposed on bulgaria and romania.
She welcolmed measures like the gangmasters LA but stressed much more is needed.
"We must have better protection for agency and temporary workers, Employment rights from day 1, Open access to labour market must be accompanied by cracdown on exploitation.
Frances finished with an acknowledgement that the chancellor is giving more money to enforce the minimum wage - but how will minimum rights be enforced?
She then called for the government to reconsider the means testing for ESOL courses.

Migrant Workers conf - am - with 2 bloggers!

Yes Eric lee is also live blogging see here - www.ericlee.info/2006/12/building_support_for_migrant_w.html
Owen Tudor was chairing the event and gave us a brief introduction of the event not just being TU's but other organisations as well.

Then the am session started off with Jack Dromey - who gave a good speech and credit were its due he has been doing a lot of work around migrant workers rights - I won't type as much as eric as I'm blogging from a blackberry and don't want RSI! :)

Jack stressed the importance of community coalitions like london citizens - the power of faith groups and local mosques churches etc to exert moral pressure on employers is something that we as trade unions should be working with to achieve the best for our members.

Jack ended with 2 things - a message to employers - "it is wrong to take advantage of migrant workers, we are determined to confront you" and to the government
You need to change your tone "why are we bracketing migrant workers with crime and security? In one of the political secretary's daily reports I said
welcoming the driving down of crime violent crime and at the end of the list was reducing asylum applications'
Why is that in the list of crimes?
The Government must honour Warwick agreement and put pressure on the EU to bring in equal treatment for all workers - but its not yet even doing it domestically - we need a domestic policy for regularisation and equal treatment for agency and temporary workers.

Sorry Jack - but this does beg the question when then are you going to come out in support of John McDonnell for labour leader - the only person who will help u achieve this aim!

Reverend Robson a pig farmer from linolnshire then spoke and told of the interesting work they have been doing supporting workers with trade unions cab and local community groups.
www.migrantworkers.co.uk

We then heard from Ian Moss head of equality of Citizens advice bureau - who have been doing work up and down the country providing myth busting leaflets and helping migrant workers on all sorts of issues housing, employment etc.

They have leaflets in a variety of languages that can be downloaded here www.adviceguide.org.uk

They have also been helping other local organisations translate documents via the website babelfish - a must for any new organisation with lack of funding

More later

TUC - Migrant Workers Conference

The TUC released information today that migrant workers can earn as little as 1 pound an hour despite often being more qualified than most british born workers. (45% of people who have arrived in country in the last 2 years have a degree compared to only 17% of british born workers! - could now have something to do with our current fees situation but I digress)

They catalogued a series of stories including a Portuguese man and his pregnant wife working on a farm sharing a house with 17 others and being left with 6 pound a week to live on!

Frances O'Grady said " this is not some Dickensian nightmare - this is happening in britain right now"

I'll be at the TUC's Building Support for Migrant Workers conference today - where there's workshops and a series of speakers from the TUC, Judy Walker director of citizens advice, Jack Dromey and various others, with Liam Byrne MP minister of state at the Home Office the key note speaker.

We will be calling for the government to do more to enforce employment rights and crack down on bosses who exploit vulnerable workers.

I'll publish an update on how it goes later.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Today - young members and Anti BNP march!

Today I attended the unison YM meeting which was good even though it was a saturday shortly before xmas :)

The YM then went to the anti BNP rally in barking and dagenham which was v v v good. We were a bit late because of our meeting and were greeted by the bnp as we got off the bus but don't worry we held our own even though the police were more interested in telling us off for swearing than the bnp racist shite!

We was in time for some good speakers - Paul mackney
And jeremy corbyn were excellent and a message of support from John McDonnel was received.

I also caught up with Alan Jarman our current regional convenor which was nice.
Banners I spotted were
Tgwu regional banner
Waltham forest trade counc
Nus black students
Newham unison
Gmb london
Southend UNISON
Waltham forest respect
Barking and dag Nut and there were others.
Approx 1000 in attendance which completly dwarfed the bnp delegation. ( At most 60 people)

It was covered by BBC london news so see if u can spot us.

I also caught up with cllr Kris Brown good to see ya mate.

Overall an excellent day I find it very cleansing screaming scum at the bnp - much better than going for a counselling session it gets rid of all your pent up rage and reminds me why I got involved in TU's in the first place.


Well done UAF!!!!!

I am now in a african themed pub called ZULU with the YM delegation (even the radiators have zebra stripes :-/) drinking snake bite!!

Much inspired - Viva la revolution
And get me another beer!
(I'll post pics wen sober ;p)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

PBR for Trade Unions???

Like most of us I will be busy working when the Chancellor gives his “pre-budget report” today. I don’t know if it will have much to offer trade unionists.(But I doubt it will - please prove me wrong!)

I think I prefer John McDonnell’s approach – Economics of the Real World.

As John points out, in the tenth year of a Labour Government;

More than a quarter of children are living in poverty.

One in ten workers under 25 are unemployed.

Almost one in five working adults earn poverty pay – unchanged since 97.

The richest 1% own 34% of UK wealth and the poorest 50% own only 1% of UK wealth – yet the poorest fifth are taxed more heavily than the richest fifth!

There is an alternative – set out by the Left Economics Advisory Panel.

This calls for;

Increasing Public Expenditure

Tackling Income Inequality

Rebalancing Taxation

Lowering the Debt Burden

Improving Pensions

Reducing Unemployment

This sounds much closer to the policy adopted by UNISON Conference last year than anything we are likely to get from Gordon Brown!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Strikes - Will They Ever End ??

Firstly I am happy to post that UNISON Glasgow City Branch have called off their 3 days of strike action after the Council and UNISON reached an agreedment over the Workforce Pay and Benitifts review. Over 11,000 Glasgow City workers we set to strike over today, wednesday and thursday, which has been comments on by some poloticians as "playing Russian roulette with the lives of the elderly and infirm". They have now got to come up with an agreed re-development plan by March 2009, one benifit will see workers gaining an extra 3 days annual leave.

Secondly, UNISON and the GMB yesterday issued a statement that Shetland Local Gvt may be balloting for stike action if the council does not come up with a better offer, currently there stands to be over 63% off staff that will lose out (mainly craftsman, clericals and professions). Unlike other councils (i.e. Aberdeenshire) who are putting in 6% to the wage bill, the Islands council are only offer 0.6% which is totally rediculous! The process that they would like to adopt was equality checked, and failed almost every aspect.
So looks like an exciting time for us :)

Thridly, council workers in Southampton are meeting today to disuss balloting their members for strike action over privatisation, cutting the wages of care staff and looking to make 100 workers redundant next year a part of their controversal budget measures. Care workers have 3 months to accept the pay cuts or look to dismissal. Mike Tucker (who I have previously posted about) is certain that members will vote in favour of strike action.
I look forward to hear what has happened by tomorrow.

Lastly (you'll be glad to know) Falkirk UNISON are holding a National Demonstration on Saturday 16th December, and they will be on a one day strike on Monday 18th December of the single status implimentation. Falkirk are the first council in Scotland that are resorting to mass sackings. So far 2892 staff have been issued with dismissal notices, these staff will have to chose between a cut in wages and conditions or no job for single status to be implimented.
Anyone in or arounds Scotland, I would really encourage you to attend the Demo for more info contact Falkirk Branch.

Well it's good to get back to the blogging scene,
Daniel :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Returned.........

Hello all, sorry for the lack of posts/comments for past few days been extra busy my birthday then my sons 3rd Birthday + work(yes that gets in the way doesn't it!) - numerous meetings and Islingon branch xmas partey!! (Much fun was had)

I'm hoping to resume normal service from this week but being as I have xmas partys and meetings to do in the next fortnight - don't count on it ;)

Though I'll try my best not to upset y'all :)

In the meantime talk amongst yourselves ;p

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Single Status strife

I was pleased to see that Doncaster UNISON are now blogging – and that they are reporting on the many problems arising from implementation of the Single Status agreement across local government.

We face some serious problems (reported unofficially on the internet) because the Government has not come up with the resources necessary to fill the gender pay gap (recently estimated at £300 million in Wales alone – and between three and five billion across the UK!) on the basis of levelling up.

Ten years ago many UNISON activists warned that the new national agreement would store up problems for the future. It is not much fun to have been proved right when the consequences are so serious for our members and our Union. With strike action in prospect in Glasgow – where UNISON is represented by a key supporter of the national leadership of the Union it is clear that Single Status is not the solution we were looking for…